Seeing This Landmark on a European Vacation Moved This Traveler to Tears

January 13, 2020 |

European Vacation is Traveler’s First Europe Tri

If you’re planning a vacation, you know how challenging and time consuming it can be to figure out where to go and what to see. That was especially true for Lindsay Scarpello when she set out to plan her first European vacation. 

Lindsay saw the value of using a travel advisor to plan her European trip, but thought it would cost more than she was willing to spend. 

Not only was Lindsay pleasantly surprised by how affordable it was to book a ten-day, two-city European vacation with Travel and Transport Vacations, she said she will never take another big trip any other way ever again.

 

Taking a European Vacation Was a Childhood Dream

After seeing, and later reading, The Hunchback of Notre Dame as a child, Lindsay developed a desire to visit Paris and see the famed medieval cathedral in person. 

While a disastrous fire prevented her from going inside, standing on the steps of the great Notre Dame cathedral brought Lindsay to tears and was a highlight of her European vacation.

“Notre Dame and parts of the UK were about the only must-sees my husband and I had on our list when we met with Abby for the first time,” says Lindsay, “seeing the cathedral in person was an experience I will never forget and am so grateful to have had the opportunity to enjoy. My interest, which was sparked as a child, reached fulfillment in being able to appreciate the historical landmark in person.”

Another aspect of the planning process that Lindsay appreciated was travel advisor Abby Bebout’s firsthand experience traveling to Europe.

“Abby was really funny, easy going and flexible in regards to setting appointments. Having traveled to Europe herself, she knew what she was talking about and had great advice about seasonality. We had originally thought about going to Scotland, but she recommended sticking to big cities for our first trip to Europe.”

Big city dwellers, Lindsay and her husband wanted a vacation that provided some guidance but left plenty of room for them to use public transportation and discover Europe on their own timetable. The freedom Abby planned in to their itinerary afforded them time and opportunity to explore the cities they visited.

“In Paris, we stopped at quaint cafes and made time to enjoy fresh baguettes, croissants and espressos,” says Lindsay. “We also made trips to the Paris Opera House and the Eiffel Tower, which were breathtaking and moving in their own right.”

A lifelong fan of Phantom of the Opera, Lindsay was pleased to find a small display near the back of the Opera House gift shop that included Gaston Lereux books and other Phantom tie-ins. 

“Having time to enjoy the culinary, architectural and cultural aspects of Paris and later, London, was great and really added to the enjoyment of our trip,” says Lindsay. “In Britain, we felt like Londoners while we were there, which was awesome. We even met with a friend who described our hotel as a ‘posh spot in the heart of Trafalgar Square.’ Abby not only found that place for us, but made it fit within our budget. We couldn’t have been happier.”    

 

Booking Was a Breeze

Lindsay counts time saved in booking and making arrangements as one of the main benefits of working with a travel advisor to plan her European trip. 

“When you think of your time as money, it would have cost me so much more to plan out every aspect of this trip on my own. I knew Abby was getting me the best deals on airfare and the hotels she booked for us exceeded my expectations. Our lodging was amazing.”

Another benefit came in the form of budgeting for the Europe trip. 

“Working with Travel and Transport Vacations allowed me to pay for our European vacation in installments that we could budget around. Had I booked them all separately, not only would I not have gotten as great of a deal, I would have had to pay for it all upfront at the time of booking.”

The only expenses Lindsay and her husband had to account for during their trip to Europe were impromptu purchases and food. 

 

Travel Advisor Tips Were Tremendous

In addition to planning and payment, which were made easier by working with a travel advisor, Abby’s firsthand experience traveling to Europe and responsiveness to Lindsay’s feedback resulted in tips that enhanced her vacation.

“We didn’t know what we wanted beyond Europe, but Abby asked great questions, listened to our responses and made recommendations based on what we said we wanted. 

“One of the things Abby did that was paramount to our trip’s success was to book us on the hop-on-hop-off buses. Knowing our desire to use public transportation and be independent, Abby made a suggestion that checked off all our boxes. We could get on the buses at any time of day and get anywhere we wanted to go while enjoying a casual tour of the parts of the cities we visited.”

 

Unforgettable Experiences Made Easy

Notre Dame wasn’t the only sight Lindsay visited. She and her husband also enjoyed stops at the British Museum and the official Harry Potter tour

“Abby made our transportation to the Harry Potter tour easy. She booked us spots on a charter bus and told us exactly where to go so we didn’t have to worry about anything. We could just enjoy it.”

Abby’s personal service and planning resources certainly added to Lindsay’s enjoyment of the trip.

“On our final pre-trip meeting, Abby gave us a packet with a detailed itinerary and vouchers. She also showed us how to install an app on our smartphones that had the same information, available at the touch of a button, online and off. 

“That convenience and the quality of our experience before, during and after our trip made this one of the best travel experiences I’ve had.”

 

Extra European Vacation Advice From Our Travel Experts

Like Lindsay, many travelers dream of taking a European vacation. With so many options to explore, we get your creative juices with these articles on planning your own.

Our expert travel advisors help people like Lindsay satisfy their wanderlust with vacation planning assistance that makes it easy to travel around the world. 

 

Get Help Vacation Planning Now

Our travel advisors are ready to help you plan your dream vacation. Contact us today to start planning your next getaway!

Travel the World With Us: Vacation Planning Roundup

December 31, 2019 |

Vacation Planning? Travel the World with Us!

If you’re vacation planning, you know how challenging and time consuming it can be to figure out where to go and what to see. Throughout the year, we’ve shared tips and guidance on how to travel the world. 

Our expert travel advisors help busy people everyday satisfy their wanderlust with vacation planning assistance that makes it easy to travel around the world. We gathered their advice and our recommendations on how to travel the world into one helpful post. 

Enjoy this roundup of the best places to travel in the world! 

 

Vacation Planning? Our Travel Advisors Dish on the Best Places to Travel in the World

One of the hardest aspects of vacation planning is figuring out where to go, how to get there, where to stay and what to see. Our travel advisors take all the stress out of the vacation planning process. Organized by Continent, here are some of the best tips and guidance they shared this year on how to plan a vacation and have fun traveling the world. 

 

Africa

From African safari adventures to culinary travels, Africa is an incredible area of the world to explore. Here are three articles to get you started. 

 

Antarctica

The frozen continent had for long remained shrouded in mystery. Impassable for so much of human history, it is now revealing its beauty for adventurous travelers to enjoy. Read these posts and see why there has never been a better time to travel to Antarctica.

 

Asia

If you’re looking for a way to travel to Asia, you have many options at your disposal. Not only can you fly to this beautiful continent with a rich history worth exploring, you can cruise there as well. Begin to discover your options in these posts. 

 

Australia

Some people are daunted by the idea of traveling to Australia. While they’d like to experience the culture of Sydney, traverse the outback and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, the long plane flight scares some would be travelers away. 

Our travel advisors know the best, and most comfortable, way to enjoy an unforgettable Australian adventure. Explore some of their tips in these posts. 

 

Europe

Taking a European Vacation is a dream for many travelers. With so many options to explore, we get your wheels turning with these articles on planning a European vacation.

 

North America

Especially if you live in North America, it’s easy to overlook it as a travel destination. Yet, many people from around the world enjoy traveling to the United States and Canada. Explore some of your options when planning a trip to North America in these posts. 

 

South America

If you’re up for adventure, whether exploring ancient historical sites or modern cuisine, consider South America. This continent, which is rich with culture and geographical diversity, is an excellent vacation option. Here are a few posts to get you started.

 

More Travel Tips and Guidance

This list of places to travel around the world barely scratches the surface of possibilities. When you book travel with Travel and Transport, you work with experienced professionals who know the ins and outs of planning vacations. These posts provide a sampling of their vast knowledge on an array of travel topics.

 

Get Help Vacation Planning Now

Our travel advisors are ready to help you plan your dream vacation. Contact us today to start planning your next getaway!

2020 Travel Advisor Picks: Which Caribbean Islands are the Best?

December 20, 2019 |

Which Caribbean Islands Are the Best? Our 2020 Picks

Abby Bebout loves talking with people about which Caribbean islands are the best to visit. A travel advisor with our Travel Design Lounge in Omaha, Nebraska, Abby specializes in adventure, beach and family travel – all ideal interests for planning a trip to the Caribbean.

“Lately, I’ve been helping people plan all-inclusive vacations to smaller Caribbean island destinations like St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua and Aruba,” she says. “These islands are less frequently visited by the large cruise liners, which makes them ideal spots for people who want to visit the Caribbean, but don’t want all the fuss and tourist traffic common to larger, more popular spots in the Caribbean like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico.” 

Adding to Abby’s advice, here are four top spots to visit in the Caribbean and highlights of each you won’t want to miss.

 

Wondering Which Caribbean Islands are the Best? Here are Four Top Spots

If you’ve traveled to the Caribbean before, it was likely on a large cruise liner. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but when you’re considering a second trip to the Caribbean, you may be looking for a different, more intimate and less touristy experience.

Our travel advisors specialize in planning Caribbean getaways that offer hidden highlights large cruise lines overlook. Here are four of our top recommended islands and things to see when you travel to them.

 

1. St. Lucia

Unlike so many of the islands that dot the Caribbean Sea, St. Lucia rises heavenward in striking fashion. The low-lying mangroves so common to this region of the world are quickly eclipsed by the mighty twin peaks of the Pitons. Volcanic springs pair with cresting waterfalls, hidden in the heart of pristine jungle terrain.

Pidgeon Island National Park offers the opportunity to explore British ruins built during the Seven Years’ War and ensures there’s something for everyone in your party to enjoy.

 

2. Barbados

Sandy beaches and pristine golf courses dot Barbados, as they do every other Caribbean island. Yet, what makes Barbados unique is its culture, which is unlike any other in the Caribbean. Limestone caverns, calypso music and exotic tropical gardens are just a few of the things to see in this southern Caribbean island. 

You can also tour the Mount Gay Rum factory, explore ancient plantation ruins and enjoy the hospitable culture and local cuisine of this laid back Caribbean community. If surfing is your sport of choice, you’ll love hitting the wild waves off Bathsheba and Cattlewash.  

 

3. Antigua

Often paired with its twin island, Barbuda, Antigua is a smaller, yet still alluring island in the Caribbean. The tight-knight community of St. John’s parish makes up the capital city of Antigua and is dotted with cricket grounds, casinos and cruise ships.

Still, if you venture off the immediate area surrounding the ports where the ships dock, you can explore the less-trafficked side of Antigua and enjoy a relaxing Caribbean vacation. Make plans to see Shirley Heights Lookout, where you can take in views of one of Antigua’s 365 white sand beaches.

 

4. Aruba

The Beach Boys may have made Aruba famous in their song, “Kokomo,” but this southern Caribbean island has long been a favorite of those who frequent the Caribbean. Covered in cacti, Aruba is not far from the coast of Venezuela, which helps it avoid the hurricanes and cyclones that so often unsettle the Atlantic belt.

You’ll find a curious mix Spanish, Dutch, Creole and Portuguese language and culture. Nature lovers will enjoy visiting Arikok National Park and hiking through the Ayo and Casibari rock formations.

As you can see from this brief overview, there’s more than one way to see the Caribbean. If you’ve visited before and want to go back for a different experience, contact Abby today. She or one of our many experienced travel advisors are ready to help you plan the Caribbean getaway you’ve been dreaming of.

2020 Travel Advisor Picks: Travel to Portugal for 7 Must-See Sights

December 18, 2019 |

Travel to Portugal for Our Travel Advisor’s 7 Must-See Sights

Managing details is important to senior travel advisor Jenny Gilbertson. Whether she’s helping people plan to travel to Portugal or Portland, Oregon, keeping an eye on the details can make all the difference between an unforgettable vacation and a trip they’d rather forget. 

“I enjoy traveling as much as possible so I can best refer and recommend wonderful destinations and experiences for our clients,” Jenny says. “It’s also fun to travel with groups so they receive personalized attention and a stress-free tour!”

Jenny’s most recent favorite trip included an Azamara Cruise from Barcelona, Spain to Rome, Italy. On it, she visited St. Tropez, France; Monte Carlo, Monaco; and Florence, Italy. Jenny considers the Monaco Yacht Show as the highlight of her trip. Visiting Southern Europe recently made Jenny an ideal travel advisor to talk with about top places to visit in Portugal.

 

Planning a Trip to Portugal? Here are 7 Things to See

If you’re thinking about planning a vacation to Portugal, here are seven stops to include on your itinerary.

 

1. Make a Stop at the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos in Lisbon

One of the most significant buildings in Portugal, the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is an ornately decorated church and monastery constructed in the Manueline architectural style. A highlight of a trip to the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is the tomb of famous explorer Vasco de Gama. 

 

2. Take a Dip at Matosinhos Beach

Portugal is home to many cultural, architectural and natural wonders. When planning a trip to Portugal you can visit both the city of Lisbon and the beaches of the Algarve region on the same trip! If you enjoy sunbathing, the long strip of golden sand at Matosinhos Beach besides a busy promenade is a must.

 

3. Climb to the Top of the Torre de Belem

Located in Lisbon, the Torre de Belem was constructed in 1521 and still stands today. If you have any interest in military history, you’ll enjoy seeing this mastery of a fortress in person. Don’t miss the stone-carved ropes and armillary sphere.

 

4. Canoe Across Furnas Lake

Hawaii isn’t the only place home to otherworldly volcanic landscapes. Furnas Lake in the Azores is a lake formed in a volcanic crater and is surrounded by mud volcanoes and hot springs. Kayaking across its blue-green waters is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

5. Discover Ruins of the Knights Templar at Convento do Cristo

Nestled in a quaint riverfront town, the Convento do Cristo is a historical gem. Founded in 1160, Knights of the Templar settled there and left their mark with numerous Masonic decorations.

 

6. See a World Class Art Collection in the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian

A must-see spot in Lisbon is the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian. This art museum houses Roman medallions, Rembrandt and Turner paintings and furniture once owned by Louis XV.

 

7. Uncover Ancient Roman Ruins in Evora

Speaking of Roman medallions, Evora offers opportunities to explore the ruins of a Roman temple built in the second or third century. Romans settled in the Alentejo province of Portugal in 57 BC and left traces of their civilization behind.

As this shortlist shows, visiting Portugal offers travelers opportunities to enjoy natural wonders as well as cultural gems. If you’re thinking about planning travel to Portugal, let Jenny or one of our other advisors make sure you hit all the high points most important to you.

Contact us today to start planning your Portugal vacation!

2020 Travel Advisor Picks: 5 Must-See Spots in the Hawaiian Islands

December 11, 2019 |

Travel to Hawaii: 5 Things to See from Our Travel Advisor

Planning to travel to Hawaii? If so, travel advisor Andrea Kurschinski has some tips for you. Andrea has helped scores of travelers plan a trip to Hawaii and other vacation hot spots around the globe.

During the course of a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Andrea has taken the stress out of planning a vacation to destinations that have included the Baltic, Alaska, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Greece, Mexico and Hawaii. More recently, she has explored the alluring world of luxury travel. What she enjoys most about planning vacations for people is the joy they experience exploring their dream destinations for the first time.

With Hawaii such a popular destination for so many, we asked Andrea for her tips on some of the top things to include on a trip to Hawaii.

 

5 Things to See in Hawaii

Deciding which Hawaii island to visit can sometimes be the hardest aspect of planning to travel to Hawaii. There are so many beautiful things to see in Hawaii that narrowing it down can be a challenge. The Hawaiian islands are diverse, with each one offering a unique adventure.

No matter which island you decide to visit, you won’t be disappointed. Here are five things to see on your Hawaii vacation.

 

1. Hike Waimea Canyon on Kauai

Kauai is called the garden isle for good reason. Not only is it the oldest island, many think it is the most beautiful. Waimea Canyon is nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific for its dramatic valleys and lush, tropical canyons. If you enjoy exploring nature, consider Kauai, where you can visit not only Waimea Canyon but Wailua Falls, Poipu Beach and the Kalalau Trail as well.

 

2. Go Whale Watching in Maui

The second-largest Hawaiian island, Maui is home to scenic mountains, breathtaking beaches and quaint shopping villages. Historic Lahaina town is an excellent spot to whale watch, eat local fare and take home a special souvenir. Other must-see spots on a trip to Maui include Makena Beach State Park (also known as the Big Beach to locals), Iao Valley State Park and Halekala National Park. Make time for a scenic drive on Hana Highway to take in many of Maui’s stunning views.

 

3. Browse the Botanical Gardens in Hilo

Nicknamed the Big Island, Hawaii encompasses 13 climate zones and is larger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined. Home to orchid-rich gardens, Hilo is Hawaii’s capital city and a fantastic spot to visit when you travel to Hawaii. Other sights to consider adding to your Hawaiian itinerary include a trip to Waipio Valley, Hawaii’s biggest isolated but inhabited territory and Kailua-Kona Town, a historic spot beside the sea.

 

4. Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Before leaving the big island of Hawaii, you should plan to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Home to one of the earth’s most active volcano sites, this national park offers jaw-dropping views of completely otherworldly scenery. A day here will leave you not just breathless, but feeling like you took a trip to another planet!

 

5. Take in the Sights and Sounds of Cosmopolitan Honolulu

Oahu may be the most visited Hawaiian island due to its capital, Honolulu. Home to more of Hawaii’s population than any other city, Honolulu boasts of both cultural and natural attractions. A popular destination for families visiting Hawaii, Oahu offers opportunities to see surfers catch waves on the infamous North Shore, go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, step in the soft sand on Waikiki Beach and learn about American History at the Pearl Harbor memorial and museum. 

 

As this tertiary glance shows, there is much to see and do in Hawaii. Get help narrowing down your itinerary. Contact Andrea or one of our other travel advisors today to start planning your dream vacation to Hawaii!

European Tours: 4 of the Best Places for Foodies

November 27, 2019 |

Food Tours Europe — Best Places in Europe for Foodies

Continuing our series on food travel, today we’re highlighting some of the best places for foodies in Europe. 

 

Food Tour Europe: Four Flavorful Options

Food tours are an excellent way to taste the world while you see it. Our travel advisors regularly hear from travelers who say food and wine tours gave them an authentic taste of a new place. With that in mind, here are four of our top recommendations for foodies to visit in Europe. 

 

1. See Spain a New Way — with a Food Tour of Catalan

From Galician seafood to Catalonian tapas, culinary adventures abound in Spain. A region with food as rich as its history, Catalan is a delicious food travel destination. A food tour of Catalan captures the essence of the Mediterranean, allowing you to experience the farms, olive groves, vineyards and refined cuisine of this delectable region.

 

2. Walking Food Tour, Parisian Style

No food tour in Europe would be complete without an option to visit Paris. A walking tour of Parisian neighborhoods allows travelers to take in the chic eateries, bustling boulangeries and casual cafes of Paris. Our advisors help travelers see both the new and modern options alongside the traditional places such as the Marche des Enfants Rouges, which is Paris’ oldest covered market. 

 

3. Tantalize Your Tastebuds with a Food Tour in Italy

The most difficult aspect of planning a food travel tour to Italy is deciding which corner of it you want to explore. Obsessed with cooking and food, Italy is overflowing with tantalizing food tours. From authentic Napoletana pizza in Naples to gelato in Sicily to food and wine tours in Tuscany, there’s plenty of exquisite dining adventures to be had in Italy.

 

4. Graze Your Way Through Copenhagen

Copenhagen’s West End is brimming with gourmet food hangouts. Learn about the meatpacking district and see how old factories have been transformed into foodie hotspots. Snack on an open sandwich or tempt your tastebuds with artisan cheese. Finish it off with a fresh microbrew. From breakfast to bakeries and everything in between, there’s much for foodies to explore in Copenhagen.

 

While this list of tantalizing food travel options in Europe could most certainly continue, these four food tour options show how much there is to be explored. If you’re salivating, let our experienced food travel advisors help you put together the perfect food travel menu for your next trip.

Reach out to us today to plan an epicurean expedition in Europe!

Eat Across Africa: 7 Delicious Food Travel Destinations

November 21, 2019 |

Food Travel in Africa: 7 Delicious Food Travel Destinations

It’s no secret that food travel is booming worldwide. Our experienced travel advisors plan unforgettable culinary travel experiences for clients all the time and are seeing a variety of culinary travel trends. One of those trends seems to be overlooking Africa as a food travel destination.

While Europe and the Americas may gain more notoriety from newbie food travelers, more experienced epicureans know that this continent is home to tantalizing food travel experiences.

 

7 Delicious Food Travel Destinations in Africa

In addition to abundant culinary options, some of the more compelling aspects of choosing Africa for a culinary travel experience are its rich history, incredible culture and exotic wildlife. As our list of destinations show, you can see amazing historical sights as you savor delightful local dishes. 

 

1. Eat Alongside Roman Ruins in Fes, Morocco

In the old town of Fes, Morocco, food travelers will find Roman ruins right alongside North African dishes like tagine, couscous and zaalouk. All will delight your tastebuds as you gain an unforgettable appreciation for ancient history. 

 

2. Cycle Across Cape Town in South Africa

If you enjoy cycling and wine tasting, a food tour of Cape Town, South Africa combining both makes a supremely satisfying food travel experience. From vineyards in Stellenbosch to whale-watching off the coast of the Cape, you’ll have an amazing time sipping and savoring South Africa.  

 

3. Visit Seaside Gardens in Stone Town, Zanzibar

Food Travel in Africa: 7 Delicious Food Travel Destinations

As you listen to the gentle sounds of the sea and bask in the waning glow of sunset, a vibrant nightlife takes shape in Stone Town, Zanzibar. Local merchants serve up sopotel, which is a tasty meat and organ masala, pepper shark, and a meat and vegetable stew that locals call boku-boku. Centuries of cultural influence from India, China, Europe, Portugal and the Middle East leave their imprint on the local fare here, creating an amazing culinary experience. 

 

4. Satisfy Your Appetite in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

If you have ever dined at an Ethiopian restaurant in your home town and wished for more, you’ll find it in Addis Ababa. Taste injera, wats, tibs and lentils like you never have before. Plan time to enjoy a cup of coffee as you stroll through some of the city’s colorful markets. You’ll be glad you did!

 

5. Experience French-influenced Cuisine in Algeria

Food Travel in Africa: 7 Delicious Food Travel Destinations

Situated on the Mediterranean coast, Algiers is a culinary jewel. Dine on a remarkable combination of European, Arab, North African and Mediterranean cuisine here while taking in the gorgeous sights of the Mediterranean Sea. 

 

6. Gorge on German-inspired Dishes in Namibia

German food might seem like an unexpected find in Namibia, but your tastebuds will welcome it all the same. Bratwursts made from ostrich, zebra, kudu and warthog are just a few of the unique local spins you’ll find on German and South-African-inspired dishes here. 

 

7. Nom Nom in Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria is home to one of Africa’s largest cities and some of its spiciest and most flavorful cuisine. Spiced jollof rice, egusi soup and pounded yams shine along with okra soup and fried plantains. You’ll find more to enjoy here than you’ll have room for, guaranteed.

This list of food travel destinations barely scratches the surface of what’s waiting to be explored in Africa. Release your inner explorer today by contacting one of our experienced travel advisors to plan your next culinary getaway!

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

November 13, 2019 |

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

Food travel has become a popular way to see the world. One needs only look at the explosion of Travel Channel food shows to see that. 

Our experienced advisors love helping travelers combine their love for food and travel into unforgettable culinary travel experiences. Culinary travel trends and feedback from our front line advisors show food tour bookings are on the rise across North and South America. 

If you’re interested in planning a food travel experience in the Americas, here are our top six must-try food travel tours.

 

Top 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours in North and South America

Food tourism combines historical sights and points of interest with unforgettably delicious local cuisine. That’s part of why food travel is so popular right now. If you want to see and savor some of the best sights in the Americas, these top food travel tours won’t disappoint. 

 

1. Magical New Mexico

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

Experience the land of magic in an entirely new way by eating your way through the historic and cultural high points of Santa Fe. The Historic Plaza food tour offers everything from street tacos that put Santa Fe’s chilies front and center to wine tastings, margaritas and ice cream. Yum!

 

2. Indulgent Ithaca, New York

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

Chances are you’ve been to New York City before, but a food travel tour in Ithaca offers a more obscure, yet equally appealing aspect of New York. Try natural food at Moosewood Restaurant, eat Ethiopian food and visit a vegan Star-Trek themed cafe. 

 

3. Authentic Austin, Texas

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

If you haven’t tried authentic Texas barbecue, you need to plan a food travel trip to Austin, Texas. This vibrant college town has music, culture, arts and amazing food. Plan to make room for breakfast tacos, brunch, beer and of course, barbecue. 

 

4. Scrumptious Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

North America doesn’t have the market cornered on tantalizing food travel spots. Brazil’s Sao Paulo is home to some of the best black bean and pork stew, which locals call feijoada, as well as a host of other local delicacies. If you plan a food tour to Sao Paulo, save room for tordesihas soup and buchada (think Brazilian haggis) and make time for a trip to the Mercado, Sao Paulo’s municipal market.

 

5. Epicurean Ecuador

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

Some food travelers overlook Ecuador for more well-known food travel hot spots in Cartagena and Buenos Aires, but you shouldn’t. Wholesome, home-cooked meals abound here. Try encebollado soup, vegetarian fanesca, or llapingacho, unbelievably delicious fried potato cakes with peanut butter.

 

6. Perfectly Palatable Peru

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

The country that gave the world the incredible Inca civilization continues to give with cooking that satisfies the senses and delights the palate. Cuy (cooked guinea pig), solterito (corn and chili salad), anticuchos (beef skewers) and lomo saltado (beef stir fry) are just a few of the tantalizing options that await you on a food travel tour in Peru. 

 

This list of top food travel tours barely scratches the surface of food and travel experiences in the Americas. Contact our experienced travel advisors now to start planning a culinary travel experience tailored to your unique tastes.

The World on Your Plate: Why People Love Food Travel

November 6, 2019 |

Food Travel — What It Is and Why People Love It

Culinary travel is on the rise, in part because food is one of the best ways to experience culture. Food travel, or food tourism as some call it, has become a popular lens through which to see the world. If you’ve always made a point to try local cuisine when you travel, a food travel vacation could be one of the most enjoyable trips you’ll ever take.

 

What is Food Travel?

Whether you call it food travel, food tourism, or culinary travel the idea is the same — food travel revolves around local dishes. Or, as Erik Wolf of the World Food Travel Association puts it, “Food tourism is the act of traveling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place.”

If you’ve watched one of the many Travel Channel food shows, you know how dishes can vary from place to place, and how much they can reveal about the locale where they are made.

At Travel and Transport, our travel advisors have seen an increase in the number of food travel vacations they plan for people. Travelers have changed from making culinary travel experiences part of their vacations to entire vacations planned around food travel. 

 

Culinary Travel Trends

Our experience mirrors that of culinary travel trends reported by the World Food Travel Association and in Skift’s Rise of Culinary Tourism report. In a survey conducted by the former, more than half of all respondents said they take pictures of food when they travel and 61 percent share those photos on their social media accounts. 

Other interesting food travel findings include:

  • 52% of culinary travelers are Gen Xers and Millennials; 48% are Boomers
  • The most important factors for people who value food travel are that the food be authentic, eclectic, local and social.
  • Culinary travel accounts for 47% of American leisure travel

 

What Does Food Travel Look Like?

Activities our travel advisors plan for food travelers include the following unique experiences:

  • Cooking school visits 
  • Food tours
  • Shopping trips to local markets and grocers to buy and learn to prepare local dishes
  • Dining experiences at unique or memorable local establishments
  • Tours and tastings of unique wine, beer and spirits producers
  • Visits to chocolatiers, bakeries and gelaterias

We look for off-the-beaten-path culinary experiences tailored to our travelers’ personal interests and tastes. Doing so helps us plan unforgettable food travel vacations.

Are you interested in food travel? Let us help you plan a once-in-a-lifetime gastronomic getaway! Contact our experienced food travel advisors now!

Hot Tropics: 6 Exotic Caribbean Cruise Destinations

October 29, 2019 |

Hot Tropics: 6 Exotic Caribbean Cruise Destinations

A Caribbean cruise is often the first cruise a person takes. This topical region of the world is known for white sand beaches, colorful sea life, friendly cultures and relaxed island life. 

If you’re thinking about taking a Caribbean cruise, our experienced travel advisors can help you escape the ordinary with a Caribbean cruise itinerary featuring one or more of these exotic Caribbean cruise destinations. 

 

6 Exotic Caribbean Cruise Destinations

After knowing when the best time to go on a Caribbean cruise is, where to go is the most important factor of planning a Caribbean cruise vacation. December through April is the best time to go on a Caribbean cruise. While you might save money cruising during hurricane season, it’s important to know that there is a risk. 

Caribbean cruise lines of every type visit Caribbean cruise ports. From family-friendly Disney Cruise Line to the upscale, luxurious Seabourn Cruise Line to industry stalwarts like Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises and Holland America Cruise Line, there’s no shortage of cruise lines visiting the Caribbean.

With so many options to choose from, sometimes the best place to start is to narrow down where you which Caribbean cruise ports you most want to explore. Here are our picks for best Caribbean cruise destinations.

 

1. Barbados

If you love to snorkel or want to try surfing in the Caribbean, Barbados is a perfect port to visit. Situated on the eastern edge of the Caribbean, Barbados boasts wave breaks and rugged coastlines you won’t find in other parts of the Caribbean. With over 200 sunken shipwrecks near the island, this is one exotic stop worth exploring.

 

2. Bonaire

One of the so-called ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), Bonaire is excellent for outdoor adventure. The preserved coral reef at Bonaire National Marine Park is worth a visit, as is an expedition to Washington Slagbaai National Park where you can observe more than 200 species of birds. 

 

3. Dominican Republic

Specifically, visit Puerto Plata. This fantastic port of call is home to the Ocean World adventure park, where you can swim with dolphins and sharks as well as play in a world class water park. First class shopping and movie trivia are here as well; an amber museum pays tribute to the home of the amber featured in Jurassic Park

 

4. St. Kitts

Do you love history? If so, put St. Kits on your list. This Caribbean destination is ideal for hiking, relaxing and visiting relics from the 1700s when the island was a British colony. Enhance your experience with a quick ferry ride over to St. Nevis to see the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton.

 

5. Jamaica

Specifically, Ocho Rios. While this classic cruise port, may not be one of the Caribbean’s newest destinations, it is the gateway to Mystic Mountain and Dunn River Falls, both worth seeing on any visit to Jamaica.

 

6. St. Barth

Bigger isn’t always better, and St. Barth proves that. A smaller ship will ferry you to this exotic Caribbean island where you can experience French-Caribbean life. Stylish boutiques, charming restaurants and sandy beaches make this an ideal getaway.

Looking for a Caribbean cruise that doesn’t disappoint? Let our experienced travel advisors plan the getaway of a lifetime for you! Call us today to get started planning your Caribbean cruise vacation.

Asia Cruises — An Exotic Way to Experience the Far East

October 23, 2019 |

Asia Cruises — An Exotic Way to Experience the Far East

For millennia, the Far East seemed closed to the western world. Today, Asia is an international destination for business and leisure. Asia cruises are an increasingly popular way to experience China, Japan and South Korea. 

Southeast Asia cruises ferry travelers between Singapore and Hong Kong, and often include stops at exotic beaches and ports of call in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

If you want to see Asia and think a cruise might be right for you, here’s what you need to know!

 

Asia Cruises: Could One be Right for You?

If you’re interested in an Asia cruise, you’ve likely cruised before, perhaps enjoying the luxury and leisure of a Caribbean cruise, Mediterranean cruise or Alaskan cruise. Asia cruises offer similar conveniences:

  • Only needing to pack and unpack once
  • Pools, lounges, restaurants and activities
  • Opportunity to visit multiple port cities
  • Entertainment and specialty dining options

While many particulars are the same between Asia cruises, European cruises and other types of cruises, there are a few things unique about cruising around Asia.

 

The Best Time to Take an Asia Cruise

Similar to hurricane season in the Caribbean, there is a best time to take an Asia cruise — during its dry season. Late spring and summer tend to be the best months for Asia cruises. Typhoon season runs from July to October, so cruising to Asia during those months is best done on a river cruise.

 

Asia Cruise Destinations and Excursions

Like other cruise itineraries, Asia cruises may revolve around various ports of call. From world wonders like the Great Wall of China to ancient temples in Taiwan, culture, arts, entertainment, shopping, history and architecture abound across Asia. 

Both ancient civilizations and thriving modern cultures coexist in Asia. Possible stops could include the following:

Cruise to Japan

There are more than 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto alone. Temples and shrines feature lovely gardens and vibrant parks backset against towering majestic mountain peaks and serene lakes. Other sights include Tokyo and Mt. Fuji.

Cruise to China

No cruise to China would be complete without a visit to the Great Wall. Working with an experienced travel advisor can help you make sure you have everything you need (including a Chinese passport) to see this world wonder. Other compelling sights on a cruise to China include stops at the Forbidden City and the Suzhou gardens.

Cruise to Hong Kong

While flying might be the first mode of transportation that comes to mind when you think of visiting Hong Kong, don’t overlook a cruise as a way to see this stunning location. Sights to see when you’re not at sea include Victoria Peak and Kowloon. 

 

Set Your Asia Cruise in Motion

Our experienced travel advisors know the region well and can tailor an Asia cruise itinerary to fit your personal travel goals. We start with what you want to see and pair that with the type of amenities and kind of cruising experience you’re looking for to find the ideal cruise for you.

River Cruises or Ocean Cruises: Which is Right for You?

October 16, 2019 |

River Cruises or Ocean Cruises: Which is Right for You?

If you’ve cruised before, it was likely on an ocean cruise. While Caribbean cruises, Alaskan cruises and Mediterranean cruises remain some of the most common types of cruises, river cruises are becoming popular with travelers.

If you’re wondering what makes river cruises different from other types of cruises, we’ll aim to answer your questions here. 

 

River Cruises vs. Ocean Cruises: What Stands Out

From European river cruises to those ferrying passengers across Asia and North and South America, river cruises are quickly becoming popular with travelers. More cruisers are choosing them as ways to see parts of the world where larger cruise liners can’t go. 

River cruises offer many of the amenities of ocean cruises and add the ability to visit smaller ports of call into which large ships can’t dock. All of the following are potential features of a river cruise:

  • Pools
  • Lounges
  • Spas
  • Specialty dining
  • Entertainment
  • Exotic ports of call in harder to reach or remote destinations

While they won’t feature the endless activities and options that ocean cruises do, they do offer the conveniences of cruising, such as only have to pack and unpack once, and visiting multiple cities with itineraries and transportation pre-arranged and planned for you.

 

How River Cruises are Different

There are some critical differences you should know about before you set sail on a river cruise. 

  • River cruise ships are smaller, typically carrying 200 or fewer passengers.
  • River cruise cabins are smaller.
  • Buffets, rather than restaurants are the norm on river cruises.
  • River cruise entertainment is present, but not as flashy or grand. Instead of a chorus line or entire bands, you may enjoy a piano soloist, comedian or karaoke.
  • There are few sea days, making itineraries more port or land-focused. 

While you can’t hide in a crowd on a river cruise, you can have a more intimate experience, including the possibility of making lifelong friends on a specialty cruise with people who share similar interests. 

 

How Excursions Differ on a River Cruise

River cruises tend to feature excursions that are more culturally-focused or specifically tailored to the ports of call being visited. Walking tours with experienced guides are a hallmark of a river cruise. Instead of buses, bazaars and beaches, you’ll encounter culture, architecture and local cafes.

Another difference is that tours tend to start earlier in the day and are closer to town centers. These factors allow you to truly take in more of a port city than you would typically find on a large cruise liner.

 

River Cruises vs. Ocean Cruises: The Bottom Line

River cruises offer the best of both worlds when it comes to cruising. As a passenger, you’ll enjoy the convenience of cruising with the intimacy and culture-focus of a land tour. If you’re hungry to experience local cultures in destinations across Europe, Asia, North and South America, a river cruise may be right for you.

Our experienced travel advisors help people plan amazing cruise vacations every day. They can help you determine whether a river or ocean cruise is best for you. Contact us now to start planning your next getaway!

From Alaskan Cruises to Antarctica, Voyages are a Way to See the World

October 2, 2019 |

From Alaskan cruises to South American cruises to cruises to Antarctica, there are more ways to set sail than ever before. Here, we highlight the world of intriguing North and South America cruising options available to travelers. 

alaskan cruise

Why Cruise? How Setting Sail Makes for a Great Getaway

Before diving into the various cruising options out there, it’s worth reviewing what makes cruising attractive to so many travelers. 

  • Cruises are great for people of all ages.
  • Voyages provide fantastic value, fun and entertainment.
  • They offer an ideal blend of excitement and relaxation.
  • Cruises are an excellent way to introduce yourself to international destinations you may want to visit exclusively on a future trip.

That last point is worth expanding on; whether you want to take a cruise to Antarctica, follow in Charles Darwin’s steps with a Galapagos cruise, venture into the heart of darkness on an Amazon river cruise or see the world on a transatlantic cruise, sea voyages are a great way to see the world. 

Every port of call offers an opportunity to encounter new cultures and landscapes. Best of all, once you’re aboard and unpacked, you’re ready to go. Your connections are handled, food is provided and entertainment and activity options are at your beck and call. 

Even at sea, cruise ships abound with new and exciting activities, including:

  • Classes
  • Shopping
  • Shows
  • Games
  • Gyms, pools and spas
  • Rock climbing walls, surfriders, waterslides and more
  • Movie theaters, live entertainment, bars and eateries

From hourly activities, to a leisurely day of sunbathing or snoozing by the pool, cruises accommodate every style and preference. Depending on what kind of experience you want, you can be one of many cruisers aboard a floating metropolis, or one of an intimate group of travelers sailing the rivers of the world.

Alaskan Cruises, New England Cruises, South America Cruises and More

Once you begin browsing the ocean of options available to would-be cruisers today, you’ll quickly see there’s a cruise for just about every destination and an experience to satisfy nearly every itinerary.

When it comes to visiting North and South America, Alaskan cruises, New England cruises and South America cruises abound with choices. Virtuoso Voyages offer a collection of the best cruise experiences in the world, with add-ons and options that make ideal vacations. Some of the exclusive amenities our experienced travel advisors book include:

  • Private car and driver in port
  • Behind-the-scenes tours
  • Specialty dining options
  • Shipboard and spa treatment credits
  • Custom and private shore tours

For history buffs, New England cruises are an unforgettable way to experience colonial America and retrace the ports and places present during the revolutionary period. Alaskan cruises put amazing views of glaciers, whales and other wildlife within reach; Canadian river cruises are a unique way to discover the waters of North America. 

If sailing south sounds sweet, an Amazon river cruise won’t disappoint. See the tip of the world with a cruise to Antarctica, or discover the ancient ruins of the Incas on a South America cruise. 

Whatever is on your bucket list, a cruise is a wonderful way to see it. Get help planning the cruise of a lifetime with Virtuoso. Contact one of our travel advisors to start turning your travel dreams into reality.

European Cruises and European River Cruises: Five Great Options

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European Cruises and European River Cruises: Five Great Options

The most difficult aspect of European cruises is deciding which part of Europe you want to see. European cruises can be broken down into two main types: Mediterranean cruises and European river cruises.

Here, we share some of the best European cruises for travelers to consider. 

 

European Cruises and European River Cruises: Five Great Options

What makes European cruises so appealing is their variety. A western Mediterranean cruise takes you to cities like Barcelona, Rome and Monaco. Eastern Mediterranean cruises meanwhile, expose you to ports of call that include Croatia, Greece, Turkey and Israel. 

 

1. See the Greek Isles on an Eastern Mediterranean Cruise.

If you loved Mamma Mia or have a burning desire to sip a glance of wine by the sea in Santorini, an eastern Mediterranean cruise can take you there. Choose from larger ships that visit ports along the coast or take a smaller cruise line into the heart of the Greek Islands. 

 

2. Explore England with a European River Cruise.

Some of the best European cruises are river cruises that begin and end in the British Isles. From Southampton to London to the cliffs of Dover, a British Isles cruise is a great way to experience the castles, coasts and cities of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

 

3. Discover Hidden Gems on a Western Mediterranean Cruise.

A western Mediterranean cruise is an excellent way to explore ports of call that might not be tourist hotspots, but do allow for a less crowded experience of western Europe. Ports of call may include Vigo in Spain, Brest in France, Le Havre in Amsterdam, Bruges in Belgium, and Hamburg in Germany.

 

4. Sail Norwegian Fjords.

A northern European river cruise is a great way to let go of the ordinary and experience the breathtaking waterfalls and inlets of this water-loving land. From metropolitan centers like Oslo to more remote ports like Bergen, Alesund and Olden, you can enjoy everything from hiking a glacier to eating whale meat for breakfast.

 

5. Sail Across the Sea on a Canary Islands Cruise

Start in the U.K. or Spain and sail across the sea to the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago, nestled off the coast of Africa. There, visit exotic islands like Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, La Palma and Madeira.  

 

Let an Experienced Travel Advisor Plan Your European Cruise

Whether you want to float down the rivers of Europe or explore historical sights along the Mediterranean Sea, our experienced travel advisors are here to help you plan the European vacation of a lifetime. 

Contact us today to start planning your next getaway!

Top Overseas Adventure Travel Tours and Destinations

September 25, 2019 |

overseas adventure travel tours and destinations

Does your idea of a dream vacation involve traveling to remote or exotic destinations where you can challenge yourself physically while exploring cultures different than your own? 

Does experiencing this type of trip with a small group of like-minded people sound even better than going it solo?

If so, overseas adventure travel tours may provide the ideal getaway for you. 

 

Could overseas adventure travel tours be right for you?

Our experienced travel advisors help people plan unforgettable adventure trips all the time and know which destinations and adventure travel tour groups provide the best experience for each traveler. 

Whether or not you’ll enjoy an overseas adventure travel tour depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation. If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, adventure travel could be right for you:

  • Do you think of nature as a playground?
  • Do you enjoy getting dirty, sweaty and physically spent?
  • Do you feel restored, refreshed or rejuvenated after hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking or trail running?
  • Does a certain amount of uncertainty excite you?
  • Do you value stepping outside your daily routine and culture to reflect on life?

If you agree with Mark Twain, who wrote, “What is it that confers the noblest delight? …Discovery! To know that you are walking where none others have walked; that you are beholding what human eye has not see before; that you are breathing a virgin atmosphere,” then you may be an adventurer at heart.

 

Top Overseas Adventure Travel Tours and Destinations

Adventure travel tours spark wonder and satisfy the craving for discovery by connecting wanderlust with opportunities to exercise it. These adventure travel tours and destinations are some of the best options for adventurers:

  • G Adventures — Travel advisor JoAnna Gonseth shared about her incredible experience exploring Peru with this top overseas adventure travel tour company.
  • Remote Lands — From private jet trips to niche-focused itineraries, Remote Lands is one of the best ways to explore Asia and beyond. 
  • Quark Expeditions — Specializing in Artic and Antarctic adventures, Quark is your ticket to exploring unforgettable fjords, glaciers and wildlife in some of the most extreme environments on earth.  

 

Top Overseas Adventure Travel Destinations

We’ve talked about adventure destinations on the blog before and offered a number of excellent options that include:

This list just scratches the surface. The best way to make sure you choose the right destination for your adventure travel tour is to work with an experienced travel advisor who understands your goals and preferences and can design the perfect vacation to meet them.

Planning an adventure travel vacation? Let us help you find the ideal escorted tour company to explore your overseas adventure travel dreams. Contact us today to start planning!

Escorted Travel Tours — Are They Right for You?

September 18, 2019 |

Escorted Travel Tours — Are They Right For You?

Travel Advisors Discuss the Benefits of Escorted Travel Tours

 

For many travelers, escorted travel tours, or group travel tours, are popular and satisfying ways to see the world, but how can you know if an escorted tour is right for you? We asked our experienced travel advisors to weigh in on the best-escorted tour companies and the benefits of group travel tours.

Elsewhere, we defined what escorted tours are and talked about some of the benefits of guided group travel. We shared that escorted tours led by knowledgeable local guides deliver an immersive experience that make travelers feel less like tourists and more like global citizens.

Here, we’re diving deeper into the topic of escorted travel tours to understand what kind of travelers they’re best for and what makes them shine. Two of our experienced travel advisors, Kim Gahm (Northern California) and Naomi Sucha (Omaha, Nebraska HQ), share who escorted tours are right for and how they find the best escorted tour companies for customers. 

 

Who are escorted travel tours best for?

According to both Kim and Naomi, almost anyone! Couples, solo travelers, and families can all benefit from an escorted tour — the true benefit of this type of trip is that it’s hassle-free with almost everything included, which holds broad appeal.

Naomi also noted that travelers looking for an in-depth experience, easy transfers between different locations, and the opportunity to meet new people along the way might be interested in escorted tours.  

 

What do you look for in a top escorted tour company?

While it depends on the wants, needs and budget of the traveler, Naomi advises the important things to pay attention to include the itinerary — does it fit what you’re looking for? How much sightseeing is included? — how large the group is, and how many meals are included.

Kim adds that the number of companies out there are practically endless — in other words, there’s something for just about every client’s needs, whether you’re a solo traveler, budget-minded, looking for luxury, traveling with your family or a group, or interested in trends such as adventure travel or ecotourism. 

 

Where are the best destinations for escorted or group travel tours?

Naomi didn’t limit her answer to just one destination. “I think everywhere!” she said.

And while the destination opportunities really are endless, Kim provided a couple of go-to spots that are popular with travelers who enjoy these kinds of travel tours.

“Anywhere you would like to go to be immersed in the local culture,” she said. “Europe, South America, Asia, Australia, Africa, India. There are even great escorted tours closer to home in Canada and the US.”

 

How does the presence of a knowledgeable local guide impact the overall escorted travel experience?

According to both Kim and Naomi, a knowledgeable, local guide is, “essential!”

“The guides are the best and most important part of an escorted vacation,” says Kim. “Guides offer a wealth of knowledge on their country, culture and community. They also provide safe, enjoyable and fun travel experiences along the way.”

If that doesn’t say it all, we don’t know what does.

 

Are you planning a getaway? Do it the easy way — with the expert insight and connections of an experienced travel advisor. Our professional travel advisors are ready to help you plan an unforgettable escorted travel tour today!

Planning a Vacation? Discover the Benefits of Escorted Tours

September 11, 2019 |

Escorted tours are a popular way to explore new destinations and pursue dream vacations. However, it’s important to use knowledgeable guides who are thoroughly familiar with the local areas you’re visiting. 

If you’re considering travel tours as part of your next vacation, here are a few things to know about escorted tours before you go. 

 

What Are Escorted Tours?

Whether you’re dreaming about train journeys in Europe, safaris in Africa or a multi-country trek across Asia, escorted tours can be an enjoyable way to explore new destinations. What sets escorted tours apart are the guides who lead them. 

Our experienced travel advisors recommend travel tours from the best-escorted tour companies that feature knowledgeable local guides. This can make the difference between a lackluster tour that doesn’t provide much information beyond what you could glean on your own versus an escorted tour that shines with hidden tidbits and tiny details you never would have discovered on your own.

The top escorted tours let you experience a destination by immersing you in its local culture. The result of a good escorted tour is that at the end of your trip, you feel more like a global citizen and less like a tourist.  

 

Who Are Escorted Tours Right For?

Beyond local insight, escorted tours typically include all the flights, hotels/lodging arrangements, transportation transfers, most meals and much of the sightseeing opportunities. Basically, an escorted tour takes all the hassle and stress of making connections and planning decisions in a foreign place off your plate.

With the planning taken care of, you can focus on exploring and finding adventure every day. 

If you are interested in a vacation that takes you to multiple destinations with stays of generally two to three days at each location, an escorted tour may be right for you. Our travel advisors can talk through your travel goals and arrange the perfect escorted tour or another type of travel experience for you. 

 

Why Make Escorted Tours Part of Your Vacation?

Similar to a cruise, escorted tours allow you to take in the sights and sounds of multiple destinations. Instead of a long stay in just one place, escorted tours expose you to places you may decide to visit again on their own for a longer period of time. 

Escorted tours are usually faster-paced and take care of all the coordination and transportation details for you. This allows you the freedom to enjoy your vacation without worrying about getting yourself and everyone in your party where they need to be at the right time and with the proper documents, payments and other requirements. 

The best escorted tour companies, like the ones we work with, can also incorporate some free time or unscheduled time throughout the trip for you to explore destinations you find particularly interesting on your own. Sometimes, this is as simple as an afternoon free to shop or sightsee in the particular neighborhoods of your choosing; or having an evening free to try a new restaurant that sounds uniquely appealing to your party. 

 

How Can You Find the Top Group Travel Tours from the Best Escorted Tour Companies?

The best way to ensure you choose an escorted tour that delivers the dream vacation you’re looking for is to work with an experienced travel advisor who only recommends escorted tour companies that utilize knowledgeable local guides.

Are you planning a vacation? Get the expert assistance of someone with the experience and contacts to plan the perfect itinerary. Contact one of our experienced travel advisors today to begin planning your escorted tour vacation!

Luxury Travel Tips: When to Start Planning a Luxury Vacation

September 4, 2019 |

Luxury Travel Tips: When to Start Planning a Luxury Vacation

Luxury travel is all about you. Your dreams. Your unique style. Your passion for experiencing the world in exquisite and breathtaking form. Still, luxury vacations and experiential travel don’t just happen. It takes the insight and taste of a travel advisor skilled in planning upscale travel to make it all fall in place.

We asked our travel advisors common questions people have when planning luxury travel, like, “How far out should I book a luxury vacation?,” “When do you start planning luxury trips?” and, “What are some of the best luxury travel destinations?” so you can benefit from their experience planning luxury vacations for clients.

 

Luxury Travel Tips: When to Start Planning a Luxury Vacation

Travel advisor Lisa Salloum is a luxury travel specialist with years of experience planning unforgettable luxury vacations for clients. Here are her thoughts on some of the most common luxury vacation questions travelers ask.

 

What are some of the best luxury travel resorts or destinations?

“Some of the best luxury vacations take travelers to places they’ve never been before but have always wanted to visit; “bucket list” type of destinations. Personally, my favorite spots to coordinate upscale travel to include Africa, Thailand and the English countryside. The exact location really depends on what the individual traveler wants to experience. There are gems in almost every country!”

 

When should you start planning a luxury vacation?

I’ve booked luxury vacations with only a month’s notice for clients. However, the more time I have to perform advanced planning definitely affords me time to work on preparing some really special moments. The more I know about my client’s particular experiential travel interests, the better luxury trip I am able to set up.”

 

How far out should you book luxury travel?

“Similar to what I shared in my previous response, luxury vacations are maximized when you have more, as opposed to less, time to plan them. Still, luxury trips of all kinds and upscale travel to many destinations can be arranged in as little as one month’s time.”

 

What are some of the common pitfalls travelers should avoid when it comes to luxury travel?

“Some travelers want to book some components of luxury trips on their own, but this can cause issues when trying to create a seamless flow. As an experienced luxury travel agent, I’ve learned missteps to avoid that someone trying to book luxury travel for the first time might easily overlook. For example, overlooking a local holiday can surprise people and lead to a situation where there is no space to stay at a desired resort or enjoy a particular luxury experience. 

“I think it’s also important for travelers to share as much about their personality and preferences as possible with the travel advisor planning their luxury vacation. The more information I have, the better able I am to curate truly amazing experiences.”

 

What are the benefits of working with a travel advisor to plan luxury trips?

“(At Travel and Transport), we have some terrific connections throughout the world to assist travelers and help them enjoy amazing experiences everywhere their luxury vacation takes them. We also have access to special perks that allow us to expose travelers to unforgettable experiences they may not have otherwise known about. Curating incredible luxury vacations is what we do best!”

Adventure Through the Andes: Travel to Peru Takes Advisor on an Unforgettable Quest

August 28, 2019 |

Travel to Peru Takes Advisor on an Unforgettable Quest

Deciding to travel to Peru with G Adventures / National Geographic Journeys was one of the best travel decisions travel advisor JoAnna Gonseth has made. Adventure trips aren’t new to Gonseth, who loves exploring unique destinations. 

A native of upstate New York, Gonseth loves hiking through wooded areas and usually travels independently. Opting to travel to Peru with a group, as part of a Peru tour through G Adventures was a first, but definitely a choice she would make again. 

Here, Gonseth describes what it was like to travel to Peru, including what she learned and what she loved.

 

Travel Advisor Dishes on Peruvian Cuisine and Other Standout Experiences From Her Decision to Travel to Peru

How would you describe your trip to Peru in three or four words?

“Breathtaking. Legendary. Life-changing.”

 

What stands out about your trip to Peru?

“So many things. First of all, the cuisine. It was excellent. Absolutely everything was five-star, farm to table, organic and delicious. Every place we ate provided full service. From soups and appetizers to fish, steak and alpaca, the food was really great. 

Our G Adventure tour provided flexibility and structure so that we had freedom to try a few places on our own but also eat as a group. We even took a cooking class where we toured the local market to select our food, purchased the items and cooked the meal. 

One thing that stood out to me about Peruvian food besides its incredible flavor and freshness was the size of the corn. A single kernel was easily five times the size of a kernel of the Nebraska corn I’m used to seeing grown on farms back home. We learned through our tour guides that many things are grown in the mountains and sent down to Lima.

One of my favorite stops was taking a trip to the highlands of the sacred valley and meeting people who live in a village in the mountainous region. G Adventures partners with the Planeterra Foundation, an organization that focuses on helping local communities. In the part of Peru we visited, we met people from the rural community of Pampallaqta in Parque de la Papa (Potato Park), where they grow about 1,300 of Peru’s 3,000+ potato varieties. We learned about the importance of potato cultivation, how they weave local textiles and hand-dye lama and alpaca fur and the importance of both to Andean culture. The village was struggling before G Adventures and Planeterra got involved in bringing tourists up to learn about how the indigenous people there live. 

Just to hear them speaking in their native tongue to our guide, who would translate for us, was so very moving. Many tourists were moved to tears by this experience and it remains one of my highlights of the trip, which is incredible considering I also toured the Machu Picchu ruins and Aguas Calientes Hot Springs.”

 

Speaking of touring ruins of ancient civilizations, are there any Machu Picchu tours or Peru tours in general you recommend?

“Yes. G Adventures offers wonderful Machu Picchu tours. They include almost everything, but still leave some free time open for independent exploration. The tour I took — Explore Machu Picchu — included everything except tips for the drivers and guide, some lunches and dinners and minimal optional tour entry fees. With the money exchange rate in my favor, even purchasing the non-included items kept the cost reasonable. 

While we traveled to the Pisac ruins and the Ollantaytambo ruins, the Machu Picchu ruins were the main highlight of the entire trip and one of the main reasons I wanted to travel to Peru in the first place. Seeing the Lost City of the Incas up close was incredible!

The views and weather were perfect, making every single angle a perfect photo opportunity.”  

 

When is the best time to visit Peru?

“Peru has two seasons — wet and dry. The dry season is the best time to see Machu Picchu. The land turns green and warm in the wet season, making it an ideal time to surf and enjoy other water activities in lima. The best time to visit Peru really comes down to what your travel goals are and what you want to see. An experienced travel advisor can help you determine when the best time to travel to Peru is to see and do everything on your list.”

 

What is your advice for others who want to travel to Peru?

“I would highly recommend working with an experienced travel advisor to plan your trip to Peru. Someone who can help you select the perfect tour or plan the ideal itinerary for your vacation. There are just so many things you may not be aware of or account for when you plan entirely on your own.

“For example, the language was surprising to me. English is really not spoken in Peru. You need to speak Spanish and have the proper Peruvian currency. It’s not like traveling to tourist areas in Mexico where English is spoken. Tour guides speak English, Spanish and Quechua, the main indigenous language there. Without a guide who speaks all three, you’ll miss out on so much. 

“I’m an independent traveler and enjoy exploring on my own. However, G Adventures’ focus on smaller groups and an immersive, local experience was really eye-opening and enjoyable. I don’t know if I would adventure travel without them again. It was that good of an experience. 

“Beyond that, the simple conveniences of having your transportation arranged ahead of time and knowing that your hotel, tours and flights are all arranged for you, takes so much stress out of the trip. These are all benefits of working with a travel advisor. The reasonable fee for their time is well worth the value you enjoy while you’re on vacation. They can also help you decide what to ax from your potential itinerary and what to keep. In Peru, this is particularly important as it’s hard to accurately gauge the distance between locations and how long it takes to get from one tour stop to another until you’ve been there. It’d be very easy to plan more than you would comfortably be able to see in a day or a week without the assistance of an experienced travel advisor.”

 

Are you planning a trip to Peru? Get the expert assistance of someone who has been there and can help you plan the perfect itinerary. Contact JoAnna or one of our other experienced travel advisors today to begin planning your Peruvian vacation!

The Best Time to Visit South Africa and South America

August 21, 2019 |

The Best Time to Visit South Africa and South America

Surprisingly, the answer to when is the best time to visit South Africa and the best time to visit South America is exactly the same. 

It depends on where, specifically, you want to go within these vast, beautiful and diverse continents. The best time to visit South Africa or South America depends as well on what you want to do while you are there.

 

Is going on an African safari one of your lifelong dreams?

Our experienced travel advisors will tell you that the best months, generally speaking, for an African safari are September through October and March through April when temperatures aren’t quite so hot. 

 

Have you always wanted to celebrate Carnival in Rio de Janeiro?

If so, then the best time to visit Brazil is late February, when the famous festival is held. 

Whether you’re trying to find the best time to go to Africa or the best time to visit South America, the first step is to narrow down which country or countries, in particular, you want to visit. 

 

Best Time to Visit South Africa and South America

As we’ve covered, there’s no one best time to visit Africa or South America. Working with an experienced travel advisor is a great way to make sure you take your vacation at the ideal time. 

Our travel advisors have taken safaris and traveled throughout South America. They travel extensively so they can draw on firsthand experience to help you plan your dream vacation. They know not only the best time to go on an African safari but also the best places to take them. They also know the best time to visit South America, in part because they’ve been there, and in part, because they’ve been helping people plan dream vacations for decades. 

Here are some of their recommendations on the best time to visit South America and the best time to visit Africa:

  • Best time to visit South Africa: While South Africa is a year-round destination, like the rest of the continent, its seasons are opposite of North America’s. Fall is March through May and spring is September through November. The best time to visit South Africa comes down to what you want to do while you are there.
  • Best time to go on an African safari: Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia are all popular places to go on an African safari, but when you go makes a difference in what kind and how many animals you’ll see. August through October tend to be productive months, but working with an experienced travel advisor is the best way to narrow down the exact location and time to see the kind of animals you most want to observe.
  • Best time to see Zimbabwe: If you love wildflowers and want to take in all the flora Zimbabwe has to offer, December to May are the best months to visit.
  • Best time to visit Brazil: Outside of late February, which is the time to go to the Rio Carnival, best times to visit Brazil include April to June and August to October, when the weather tends to be cooler.
  • Best time to see Peru: The best time to see Peru is during its dry season, which is May through September, especially if you’d like to hike Machu Picchu or the Inca Trail. December to March can also be fun but will include frequent rain showers.
  • Best time to go to Argentina: Like South Africa, Argentina is a year-round destination. Winter is in July and August and features the coolest weather, however, it also tends to be most crowded then. Working with a travel advisor to plan your trip will ensure you get the most out of your vacation to Argentina.

 

Best Places to Visit in Africa and South America

Knowing when to go on an African safari is only one part of planning your dream vacation. Working with an experienced travel advisor is the best and easiest way to assemble an itinerary that fits your interests. Our travel advisors would love to help you explore the best that Africa and South America have to offer.

Contact one of our experienced travel advisors today to turn your dream South American vacation or African safari into a reality.